Archive for ‘Philosophy’

August 22, 2009

Wandering patriotism

by Kevin Aditya

Forgive me founding fathers.

Forgive me founding fathers.

The introductory week was fine and the first real studying week was finer and I think it’s the best I could get for now but for the last two weeks one question has been bugging my head: is it bad to not be a nationalist? In the long introductory week all the seniors and lecturers on the seminars were all about “making Indonesia a better place to live” and everything. They said to not be an apathetic human but that’s exactly who I am now. Every time I do the Ganesha salute shouting “to god, nation and almamater” I have my silence on the first two stuffs and is it wrong to live with a passion only for ourselves? I really don’t care where this nation will be going unless it directly affects my life. I don’t vote. I guess I’m not a really nice guy to get along.

May 11, 2009

Losing grip on reality

by Kevin Aditya

Claude Monet's The Seine at Argenteuil, also known as Vanilla Sky

Now close your eyes for three seconds, open them and look around.

Your computer screen, whatever food on the plate, paintings on the wall, that dark-green pencil on your desk, this is your reality. As your eyes perceived.

Grab your whatever food you’re currently eating, feel the texture. Soft, rough, greasy, creamy, crumbling, call it. Chow a good bite. Was it chocolate-sweet, juicy, tender, crunchy, salty, anything? That is another part of your reality, right like your skin and tongue felt it.

Stay quiet. Closing eyes is better. Listen to every noise your surroundings make, smell any scent floating around and try to identify them. Clock ticking, dripping rain outside, the aroma from the cup of coffee on your table. Humming CPU fan noise, kids yelling and running outside, the nostalgic smell of your cat’s shampoo or the pillows you sleep on every night. This is the real of realest reality, as far as your nose and ears can perceive.

Lift your palm, stare at your fingers like they have the eyes of your girl/boyfriend. Clench a tight fist, then spread it wide, then move them around the way spider crawls up your wall. Repeat slower.

Did the idea came before your very eyes? Did you just felt that your mind actually forms a somewhat different world from your body, the physical reality? You know you can wiggle your fingers around anytime, but how could they actually move? Okay, you’ve already learnt the nervous system, dendrites, myelin sheath, hypothalamus, neurotransmitter blah blah. But you simply think to move your fingers, and ting they moved in no time. You might not even realize the thought process. Isn’t that wonderful, you say, to be a human?

But wait. If you are, actually, just this big brain of gray matters put in a jar with self-sustaining liquid, and the sensory parts of your brain got connected with hundreds of cables to a supercomputer super enough to stimulate those five sensory parts — namely ‘eyes’, ‘ears’, ‘skin’ ‘tongue’, and ‘nose’ — so you perceive this reality, this world you see right here, right now… Wouldn’t that be a truth too horrible to handle? Can you accept that your bedroom, friends, family, lunch, dinner are nothing but computer-generated sensory stimulation?

Now you might say I’m being nonsense. But really, how could you know? A brain in a jar like you wouldn’t have the ability to dash out of your own borders of reality — this very brain that is you, put in a glass jar unable to move nowhere. It would be like Holden Caulfield jumping out of Catcher in the Rye and starts calling his author JD Salinger’s dead body the real phony. We, you and I, will never know.

May 5, 2009

Aesthetically curious

by Kevin Aditya

There’s always times when you feel the urge to sit down and think about the world and life that happens around you, or in other words, philosophical thoughts. Those thoughts and questions bothered me so much at times that I would just sit down and think for minutes, can you feel how time-wasting that was? Lately those thoughts came more often, probably because I’ve finally finished reading Sophie’s World, and reading it was such a sheer delight! Go find one and read it, it’s a very good novel to introduce you into philosophy. One of the brilliant concept I’ve come to learn from reading it is Kierkegaard‘s three stages.

Søren Kierkegaard, 19th century Danish philosopher and theologist, had introduced the three levels of individual existence that determines one’s connection to the philosophical life: Aesthetic, Ethical, and Religious stage.

Aesthetic stage is where most people are, embracing life on mere earthly enjoyments and sensuous desire, particularly on arts. Varied degrees exist on the aesthetic stage, but most people stay on the least reflective sort of the stage where their lives are mostly guided only by daily tasks and concerns. At the top of the stage, people become more reflective and tend to move on to the next stage.

Ethical stage starts at the point where an individual realizes his true direction in life, becoming fully aware of good and evil and commits themself for the betterment of the world. In this stage people exhibit the consistency which they lacked on the previous stage. They feel the need to take responsibility of their lives and the world around them. The most commited ones will move to the next and highest stage.

Religious stage, as the name suggests, implies a fully-commited individual who has a strong connection to his religion, totally surrendering life to serve on the way of God. People on this stage embrace their works under the name of God, and seek truth in their religion. Note that this stage is important but not highly necessary, as ethically devoted people could be irreligious, but religious people always have the ethical side to serve and help others. Kierkegaard defined this as the most reflective stage on a human life.

Over time, people will come and go through stages because you know, it’s tiring to help others all the time isn’t it? People could be on the ethical stage but drop back to the aesthetic at times when they need to take a break. Now you’re asking me, which stage am I on? Well of course the aesthetic, oh my individualistic self! How about you? Did you ever feel the need to go out and help people? Which stage are you on?

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